Flash + Usability = Love !

By | February 14, 2006

One more Top 10 Mistakes In Web Design, which include Flash. Here’s my personal answer about this topic.

The Mistakes #3 according: http://www.bootstrike.com

Flash, Director and Java Usage

Flash, Java is cool. Shockwave, cooler. Director, awesome! They are good, but it brings a host of disadvantages to a site using it –

* Can’t be indexed by search engines – Especially sites that are fully based on flash, search engines will have trouble indexing them with the exception of Google, but it still pays to have a non-flash section

This is the only point that I accept, and I think it’s the biggest (and only) problem of Flash.
I really hope that it will be solved soon.

* Big download == Long Wait – If you are using a flash movie as a splash image, do make sure you have a “Skip Introduction” outside the flash in HTML source, NOT in the movie itself, as it will bar users without flash from entering.

When was the last time you saw a Flash introduction? Maybe for games or movies websites and in this case it’s useful.
More, Flash give you more control over your loading (load the text first, then image, then video or any order you want).

Animation (Including Flash)

Animations serve to distract. That is why advertisement banners are animated (or even in Flash animation).

The first property of distraction is to take the attention of your webuser, and it’s exactly what I want, (i.e.: why my products are the best or what is the prize of a pizza).
For me the web is more multimedia than only a text media.

Here you can find some more critics about Flash :

My conclusion :
Sure Flash is a dangerous technology if you don’t use it well.
But some solution are well working :

  • The use of html link on the Homepage give the spider (of search engine) access to all of your webpage.
  • A webuser who don’t have the appropriate plugin version or have JavaScript deactivated can be nicely handled with the detection kit
  • If banner distract it’s not because of Flash, the .gif, java as already shown the problem years ago.

It’s always a question of just middle. The problem doesn’t come from the technology but from the developers who forget they make website for user and not for them (when they don’t do it for them).

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6 thoughts on “Flash + Usability = Love !

  1. Pingback: Metah Blog

  2. flashape

    if you are creating a full flash site and the content is being pulled in from a database, you can detect for a search engine bot and dump the contents of the database if it is a bot. if it’s not you can serve up the swf. I had a bunch of info on this on my blog, but my entire blog was hosed so i cant link to it. I use the technique on a number of sites i develop and get outstanding results.

    there is also a way to do it using xml..i think i remember seeing something at jessewarden.com

  3. Alan Musselman

    Nice post!

    I have to agree and disagree about the developer is the one who makes the website, not the user.

    It really depends on the client. Still to this day, I have clients that have no idea what Flash is and have to explain to them the advantages and dis-advantages of using Flash vs. HTML every time.

    Then you get the client that wants all Shockwave/Director and once you build it for them, they complain that user feedback is they couldnt download the plugin or something so you implement the fail-safe plan, an HTML version with no plugins.

    Then you get the hybrid client that wants a little Flash for the punch image/animation and HTML/CSS navigation. I see more and more Hybrid Flash/HTML sites these days other than full on Movie/Micro sites. (Digital brochures)

    Then there’s the play it safe all around, use animated GIFs client that doesnt want any flash at all.

    So is it still the developers decision? Or do we have to play Web Guru and lay all the cards on the table and let the client choose?

    I have found out no matter what I tell the client, they always want something different than you’d expect. 😉


  4. Metah

    Thanks for comment,

    To Flashape : Nice way to do it. But anyway the webuser won’t be directed to the correct scene of you flash site or would he? When he’s coming from a search engine? I had made a little trick with the LocalConnection() to make it work
    Btw, sorry for your blog, hope it won’t happen to fast here…

    To Allan: That’s totally true, it depend of the client. Personally the client who doesn’t want any flash at all would really annoy me. I always propose the hybrid version you talked about. For me it’s seems from far the best solution.

  5. Kevin Hoyt

    Nice post!

    Animation … Bad … Hmmm … Has the brain behind that statement seen any OS X whatsoever? Any previews of Vista perhaps? Animation can certainly distract, but animation can also be an exceptionally valuable usability tool. Drawing the users attention to certain system behaviors helps the user understand how to interact with that system.

    If you really wanted to, you could even push this as far as tooltips or other system behaviors common in today’s applications (i.e. buttons that highlight when rolled over in MS Outlook). After all isn’t making something change appearance, or making something appear, a subtle form of animation?

    When it comes right down to it, let’s not blame Flash for poor (overzealous perhaps?) implementation. I could just as easily use DHTML (among serveral other technologies) to make annoying banner ads, but marketers understand the power of the ubiquity of the Flash Player. And of course (I can’t help myself) with great power comes great responsibility. (smile)


  6. flashape

    hey metah,

    yeah, we ahve it set up so that the correct info is found when you come to a link via a serach engine ( or you will be int he right category at least)…thats really the only way to do it and not get yourself banned from google.